Why Mow When You Can Moo?

We’re getting ready to skid over to drill a second hole sometime next week, so there’s not a lot of activity. There’s also been NO connectivity. Even though we have both AT&T and Verizon air cards, the internet seems to go down with the sun each evening.

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We’re still in the same spot, somewhere south of Kenedy (not misspelled – just one n – Texas is a red state, y’all). We’re maybe 150 feet from the rig. I’m really not much better with feet and yards than I am with north and south so that may be way off but, as you can tell from this photo, we’re close.

Our RV is in the left front, then the rough-necks trailer and then it’s time for a hardhat. We’re sitting in pea gravel. To a gate guard, pea gravel is pad heaven. No caliche! Well, that’s not entirely true, there’s always caliche, but it’s on the road, not under us!

The picture below is rather remarkable. I took it a few days ago when we had clouds. We almost never have clouds.

No matter which side of life she was looking at, Judy Collins would have nothing to sing about if she lived between Beeville and Kenedy. Except possibly, next week if Tropical Storm Debby (don’t you hate it when they name something destructive after you – at least they spelled it wrong) takes the path predicted and turns away from Florida, landing here about Thursday.

Just a reminder, in the right margin, you can always check your weather at Weather Wunderground or track Hurricanes and Tropical Storms by clicking on the live links.

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One of the guys came by to pick up our garbage. Heidi was asleep and I don’t know where she keeps it. I know, how could I not know that? There doesn’t seem to be any anywhere. 😀

It’s probably bagged up in the truck but I didn’t want to make him wait. It’s that or the shoemaker’s elves. I did get a partial picture out of the right to your door service. Sorry I cut off the forks which, of course, is where the garbage goes.

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Since moving to Texas we’ve spent a surprising amount of time with cows. I don’t have a farming background. My Mom grew up on a farm, but I’m more of a town/city girl.

What makes the picture below rare is that this cow was actually on the other side of a fence from us. Normally, we just share the space, so I’m getting to know a lot more about cows.

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We had  a lot of cows in Iowa. I saw them from the window of the car. There are a lot of cows in Texas. They lick the window of the car and just about everything else.

This cow is a good example. I stopped to take a picture because she was just wandering along the side of the road. She walked right up and licked the truck.

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There doesn’t seem to be an unappealing part of our service wagons.

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The picture below was taken when we were in that really weird patch of 8 foot tall weeds last fall. I think this is where Heidi mastered the art of throwing water on the cows (calves) since they were bent on eating our satellite.

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In the end, we bent it ourselves. In a missed relay from me to Heidi to the ground and it fell on its nose. We now have the little dome kind that finds the settings for you and is impervious, so far, to cow licking. Which is kind of surprising because it looks a whole lot like the salt licks we used to have back home.

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As apparently so do I (look like a salt lick).

Those of you who’ve been reading for a while, know about the night I tried to open the door to check out the constant whacking sound and it wouldn’t budge.

When I finally got it open there were cows and calves everywhere – swatting flies and the RV at the same time.

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I literally tumbled onto one. Although he was temporarily startled, I was soon surrounded and received some serious licking. I had my camera in my pocket. I have no idea why I thought this was a great photo-op moment.

The little bit of white in the bottom of the picture is my t-shirt – clearly salt-lick looking.

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Their joy came to a halt when I had to wrestle the lawn chair away from one and the leather tire cover away from a particularly hungry guy.

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I took this photo yesterday. I’ve heard of people keeping goats so they don’t have to mow. Our neighbors have gone Texas BIG and substituted cows for goats! No mowing, just mooing!

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Notice the open gate in the above picture. It’s not at all unusual to have to pull over and wait to see why the cows crossed the road.

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She always says, my lord, that facts are like cows. If you look them in the face hard enough they generally run away. ~ Dorothy L. Sayers

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Dorothy Sayers was a great writer who clearly didn’t cross the pond to hang out with Texas cows.

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Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem. ~ A.A. Milne

When the bulls talk, we listen. There were 3 (although you can only see one in this video. There was another behind him and one across the road – not fenced in of course. We asked the rancher (this was a while back) if we needed to be worried since the not-fenced-in-bull hung out right outside of our RV.
Apparently they were all three trying to impress the lady cows, so Yep.
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Greatness alone in not enough, or the cow would outrun the hare.  ~Proverb

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All is not butter that comes from the cow.  ~Proverb

I now know this to be a fact.

A Fluke! There’s No Flink!

We’ve moved from Iowa, a state with more cows than people.

All the really good ideas I ever had, came to me while I was milking a cow.  ~Grant Wood

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To Texas, the state with the largest cattle population in the nation.

Twelve or more cows are known as a “flink”, who knew? I thought once you had more than immediate family, they were a herd!

This has been a challenge for bovinaphobic Heidi and Henry.

The Sanskrit word for “war” means “desire for more cows.”

After 4 months of intense desensitization therapy, both have conquered their cow fear! I expect this will be a real plus in a month or two at the next gate.

Currently, we live on the only cattle ranch in southern Texas that’s cow-less. I understand that Bill and Nancy do have some cows but they keep them hidden.

Funny to be guarding  2 cattle crossings with no cows to cross them.

Tonight is a tribute to cows we’ve met and the cows we’ve yet to know…

Moo may represent an idea, but only the cow knows. ~ Mason Cooley

A cow spends 13 hours a day lying down and up to 8 hours a day eating.

It takes around 3,000 cows to supply the 22,000 footballs, the NFL uses every season.

No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.

A cow is a very good animal in the field, but we turn her out of a garden.  ~Samuel Johnson

Cows give 60 lb. of milk a day.

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.
~Ogden Nash

Cows eat 100 lb. of feed a day, 20 lb. of grain, and drink a bath tub full of water a day.

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.  ~Joan Gussow

Dairy cows can produce 125 lbs of saliva a day.

Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.  ~Thomas de Quincey

Pick a Peck of Pickeld Pears

TD!

I’m not really much of a sports fan but I do know what a TD is. So when Steve told me yesterday that we’d reached TD I struggled to make the verb fit the noun.

I had to ask what constitutes a TD off the football field, in the oil field?

He told me and we talked a bit more. The gate was really busy. The 7/7 guys were leaving for home and the other were returning for their tour. A caravan arrived to begin running the casings.

It was a while before I came inside and told Heidi the good news: we’d reached Total Destruction!

She said: Are you sure that’s what Steve said?

I should have written it down.

I said: I’m kind of sure. I know it’s a good thing that sound like death.

The more I got to thinking about it, the less likely it seemed that I’d gotten it right. When Steve came back from Nixon, I asked him if we’d reached Total Destruction? He said he sure hoped not!

As most of you probably know, TD stands for Terminal Destination. Total Destruction, Terminal Destination: both sound like bad action movies to me, but Terminal Destination is a good thing.

Hard to see through all the caliche, but this cow dined on a  prickly pear cactus for at least an hour.

Steve is a very patient man.

Tonight I pointed out that the cow standing at the side of the road was eating a prickly pear cactus.

I was concerned for her.

I asked if that was common in Texas? He wasn’t sure. I Googled it later. It appears to happen mostly during a drought and isn’t very good for the bovines, for kind of obvious reason.

Steve did add that prickly pear cactus are delicious! A fact that the cows know but has managed to escape me.

I asked if he meant prickly pear jelly which they have in all the touristy shops? I think I’ve also had prickly pear wine.

But no, Steve said prickly pear cacti are really good with scrambled eggs. He said they pickle them and serve them in strips like green beans. Officially, they’re called Nopalitos – tender cactus?

About an hour later, Steve returned from town with a present.

Our own jar of Nopalitos

So far I haven’t been able to get the jar open so I can’t tell you how they taste.

The ingredients are: tender cactus, onions, cilantro, serrano peppers, vinegar and water.

I’ll scrambled some eggs when Heidi gets up and take another crack at the lid.

The prickly pear cactus is the state plant of Texas.

Too bad for the cows that it isn’t something like hay.

There are a number of interesting laws concerning cattle in Texas.

Through no fault of her own, the color of the hide of this bovine makes her a perfect target for graffiti artists!

My favorite one is:

In Texas, it’s illegal to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.

That seems like a good and reasonable law to me.

Given all they go through just to get some roughage in their diet, I surely would hope they wouldn’t have to worry about  people sneaking up on them with magic markers and spray paint!

This post was barely up when this poor cow met with the inevitability of illegality in the dark back roads of Texas.

Although I’m protecting the artist from prosecution or persecution by not posting her name here, if you read the comments… well you can draw your own conclusions.

Documented evidence of bovine graffiti near Smiley, Texas! (click to blow up cow to read)

Graveyard Shift

The myth:”England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a “bone-house” and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the “graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a “dead ringer.”

The eerie thread of truth that links a gate guard to a graveyard guard is the listening for the bell part. That’s why I stay up all night. Reality is less intriguing than British fiction. According to the CDC, roughly15 million people in the U.S. work on “night shifts” or time-shifted schedules. I’ve never worked the night shift before although I did pull all-nighters in college. Not the same thing.

Gate guards handle night traffic in a variety of ways. Sometimes the gate is pretty quiet at night and it works to just have sweats to jump into and run out with your pen and clip board. I tried that at first but for me it was like having a newborn. I would sort of sleep, but remained ready to jump at the first ring, which by the way, always scare me to death.

since neither of us was sleeping well, Heidi and I decided to split the job into day and night time shifts. Nights would be impossible for Heidi since she considers 9:00 a late night. When we arrived at our second assignment, I made the switch to nights. It’s a simple schedule. I go to bed around 5:30 in the morning, after Heidi gets up and is ready to take over the gate. If I want to watch a morning news program, I record it and watch it about 15 hrs later (it’s still news to me)!

After the second night, the change was surprisingly easy for me. I sleep until around 1:00 or so in the afternoon without difficulty. I never need an alarm clock. The job provides plenty. Below are are just a couple of examples of things that serve well as an alarm clock for a night shift worker.

Most common: really, really big trucks with really, really big loads, passing about 3 feet from a bedroom window.

OR

They’re fairly quiet eaters but the calves have a lot of separation anxiety and the bulls are big on posturing so the mooing crescendos…

When I get up, I take Henry, my dog, for a dusty walk (he’s on my schedule now) and then get ready to start my day with a shower around 2:00 in the afternoon. From 2-6, Heidi and I alternate working the gate with trips to the grocery, laundry-mat, library, phone calls etc… After a few hands of Cribbage and Rummy, Heidi heads to bed and I have breakfast around 7:00 p.m. which usually looks something like this:

Lunch is a banana around midnight and supper is an egg or cereal about 3:00 a.m. I haven’t figured out why I eat my meals backwards. Maybe it’s because Heidi often cooks while I’m sleeping so it seems like the food that smells the best should be eaten first?

Working nights is surprising peaceful for me. I enjoy the quiet. There’s less gate traffic so, when it’s warmer than tonight’s 40 degrees, I can keep the door open without being bathed in dust. I read until I get sleepy. I knit while I watch TV. I don’t make anything since I can’t really knit. I just make lots of blocks that I don’t know how to connect.

In case you’re wondering why someone would knit who doesn’t know how to make anything, so I am I, sort of. I think I knit, in part because TV both entertains me and bores me and also, so that I won’t eat. I don’t smoke and I can’t draw but do I have restless hands and knitting gives them something to do.

In addition to knitting but not making anything, I guard a gate that they took off, so actually I just guard a cattle crossing 10 miles from Nixon and 6 miles from Smiley. They had to take the gate off the day we got here because the trucks and trailers couldn’t fit through.

There’s more cattle traffic than truck traffic most nights. Have you noticed how the happy California cows lay down a lot? When I was in Ireland last fall I was surprised at how nearly all of the cattle were lying down. Maybe they were happy, too. In Iowa, for the most part, our cows graze (standing up) in the day time and sleep at night. Not Texas cows. They walk around all night long. I don’t know when/if they sleep. These must be night shift cows since they start gathering around dusk and walk back and forth in front of the cattle crossing, mooing mournfully until around 4 in the morning.

Henry and the cows and I seem to be on the same schedule. Henry continues to be disturbed by cattle so I made him a muffler. I think he liked it better when I worked days! 😀